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Rural health initiative taking shape

February 19, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is beginning a three-year project aimed at bringing better healthcare to rural areas. The primary focus of this initiative, prompted by the Affiordable Care Act, is to use newer models of healthcare delivery, like telemedicine, to bolster community health programs, nursing home care, home healthcare and ambulance services.

According to CMS' project page, the Frontier Community Health Integration Project (F-CHIP) will rely on Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to serve as hubs for healthcare activities in rural areas with the goal of "avoiding expensive transfers to hospitals in larger communities," while improving the quality of care received by Medicare beneficiaries and reducing Medicare expenditures in these rural areas.

CMS is currently accepting applications for the F-CHIP in Alaska, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming--states where at least 65 percent of counties have six or fewer residents per square mile. The application deadline is May 5, 2014.